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Evaluation Reports

Longitudinal Study

January 24, 2000

TO: Members, Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

FROM: Mary Jo Nichols

RE: Partners in Policymaking™ Longitudinal Study

The most recent longitudinal study of Minnesota Partners in Policymaking graduates was completed by Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D. and submitted January 18, 2000. This study was conducted for Year VIII through Year XI, a total of eight classes.

This is the first study that included questions about the increased independence, productivity, integration and inclusion of individuals since graduating from the Partners program. We can now show trend data for our key business results (IPII) from our longitudinal study because these results are tracked over four years and seven classes (trend data is demonstrated with at least three data points). The long term benefits of the program are also shown by the extent to which Partners graduates continue to be involved in leadership activities, how leadership skills are being used, and the difference that Partners has made in the lives of graduates and their families.

In an effort to increase the response rate, we prepared a cover letter to accompany the surveys. The cover letter explained the purpose of the survey and encouraged Partners graduates to complete and return the survey. The overall response rate was 56%. No results were reported for Year IX, Class 10 due to insufficient data.

A copy of the complete study is available upon request. Following is a summary of the results:

    Results Year/Class
    VIII/8 VIII/9 IX/11 X/12 X/13 XI/14 XI/15
    Independence
    57% 73% 86% 90% 70% 88% 86%
    Productivity
    29% 64% 72% 90% 70% 64% 57%
    Integration
    Inclusion
    72% 100% 72% 100% 60% 65% 86%
    Ability to
    get appropriate
    services
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    90%
    good to
    excellent
    94%
    good to
    excellent
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    Skills related
    to appropriate
    services
    100%
    most/
    some of
    time
    100%
    most/
    some of
    time
    100%
    most/
    some of
    time
    100%
    most/
    some of
    time
    90%
    most/
    some of
    time
    100%
    most/
    some of
    time
    86%
    most/
    some of
    time
    Skills related
    to appropriate
    services
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    100%
    good to
    excellent
    80%
    good to
    excellent
    70%
    good to
    excellent
    94%
    good to
    excellent
    86%
    good to
    excellent

Partners graduates identify significant life changes in the areas of housing, education, employment, family support, case management, technology, health care, and friendships that they attribute to their Partners experience. Highlights from these areas are as follows:

  • Housing: Living in my own apartment now; built a new townhouse;
  • Education: Received requested services from school district;; inclusion improved with person centered planning; child attending school close to home rather than in neighboring community; day care/school doing what my daughter needs; daughters stayed in school until age 22; better IEPs; greater school/community inclusion; better services and greater/full inclusion (3 mentions); earned a BS degree; educational opportunities; writing a book; more independent at school
  • Employment: Started own business; looking for a job; returned to work full time and promoted a year later;
  • Family Support: More control over our lives; respite now available; received the family support grant;
  • Case Management: Received private case management through the waiver; just received case management and on waiting list for services; receiving case management services; better case manager/have become child's case manager (2 mentions);
  • Technology: Obtained technology for family member; two successful mediations regarding environmental modifications;
  • Health Care: Receiving better health care;
  • Friendships: Genuine and lifelong friendships; friendships and inclusion in community activities; daughter has friends who come to visit her.

Partners graduates identified skills they learned during the Partners program and still use today, an indicator of the long term value of the program:

  • Advocacy
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Collaboration
  • Self confidence, self reliance
  • Negotiation skills (win-win)
  • Assertiveness
  • Diplomacy
  • Perseverance
  • Networking
  • Independent thinking
  • Effective meeting skills (parliamentary procedure)
  • Listening

Other comments included:

  • "Partners... reduced my sense of isolation."
  • "The Partners training brought us [parents] closer together."
  • An effective network of helping each other out.
  • "I loved the whole experience!"
  • "The best program I have been involved with."
  • Say more about how much parents can do and influence change.
  • Offer more classes for graduates; refresher sessions;
  • Learned "how to express my point of view without putting up walls."
  • "I'm a much stronger and more effective and respected person."
  • "I speak up for myself more."
  • "Return visits to current sessions to renew interest, vision and maturation."
  • More Saturday/Sunday sessions for working folks.
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